Camp Zoofari: FAQs
Parent Information and FAQs
Camp Communication is by Email
Check your email for a receipt! Please be sure you are receiving email from Camp Zoofari by checking your SPAM settings in your email. If registering for someone else, be sure to forward them all emails. Camp Zoofari communicates up to the start of camp via email. If you do not receive a receipt via email, please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure you receive communications.
What are the camp hours?
Gate 8 camp entrance opens and closes promptly at the hours below in order to begin the camp day. Our staff are not able to “hold the gate” for late arrivals.
Before and after camp programming is not a drop-off daycare style program. We conduct on-grounds activities with the early/late campers, so Gate 8 will not be staffed outside these hours. Campers not picked up by 4:15 pm will be charged for after/care for the day at $20/day.
Gate 8 Access Hours
- 7:30 – 7:45 Before Camp Programming ($50)
- 8:45 – 9:15 Camp Registration
- 3:45 – 4:15 Camp Pick Up
- 5:00 – 5:15 After Camp Programming ($60)
Where do I go when I arrive?
Please bring campers to Gate 8, located down the sidewalk to the left as you face the main entrance.
The City of Houston does not open the entrance to the Lot G (parking lot closest to Gate 8) until 9AM. When arriving before 9AM, use the entrance by Miller Outdoor Theater at the back of the parking lot (Lot E). Once in the parking lot, park anywhere in lots E, F or G and enter Camp at Gate 8. Gate 8 is only opened at scheduled times listed above.
If I am arriving late? What if I need to leave early?
Gate 8 will only be open the hours above. If you are arriving to pick up or drop off your child outside of these times, use the Zoo’s main entrance. Once inside the Zoo, you must check your child in or out with staff in the Brown Education Center (BEC) office. If checking out early, please allow extra time to find parking and for your camper to return from Zoo grounds back to our building.
Where should I park?
Please visit the Parking and Directions webpage for up-to-date information on parking around the Zoo. Lots E, F, G, H and I are all open to the public to park.
The free parking lots around Houston Zoo are owned and managed by the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department and have no affiliation with Houston Zoo. They are intended for use of guests visiting Hermann Park, Miller Outdoor Theater, Centennial Gardens, Houston Zoo, and the other museums in the area.
We understand parking can be difficult, especially in the afternoon. We are unable to offer a carpool lane as emergency vehicles must have access to the Zoo. We cannot block the road and driveway leading into the Zoo. Because the lot is owned and managed by the City of Houston, we are unable to block or reserve any part of the parking lot for camp participants.
Please do not park in the handicapped spaces or loading zones along the curb outside Gate 8 (Red box below) unless you have a permit, as you may be ticketed or towed. Please do not park there, even if you see others parking in these zones.
City of Houston Parking Enforcement and Houston Police routinely patrol the area and write tickets to camp parents parking in these spaces when they begin blocking access to the street and driveway to emergency vehicles. Houston Zoo is not responsible for fines received.
I want my camper to be with friends. What should I do?
Camp is designed to foster new friendships and is an important part of early childhood development. There are no guarantees that we will be able to pair up campers as we assign them to their camp group by birthdate. We do this so that a camper on the youngest end of the age group is not placed with a camper in the oldest campers in the age group or vice versa. (For example, a camper who just turned 4 is not placed in a camp group with a camper who is currently 5, but will be 6-years-old in a month).
We limit requests to one camper to be paired with one other camper. We are not able match up groups of 3 or more individuals. Campers in the same topic will see each other throughout the day – in the morning, at lunch, during activities, animal handling and at the end of the day. To ensure a better chance that your request is filled please:
- Make sure both campers are registered for the same camp topic on the same date.
- Send an email to our office education @houstonzoo.org with both camper’s full names, dates and the camp topic.
- Make your request by May 1, 2018.
What do I do if my child has allergies?
If your child has food allergies, please include this information when registering. We are not able to offer alternative snacks. You are welcome to provide a snack for your own child if allergies are a concern.
My child needs to take medication; how should I arrange for this?
The Houston Zoo does NOT administer medication to children, nor does it allow campers to self-medicate and does not permit medication (OTC or prescription) at camp with the exception of emergency medications (inhalers, epi-pens, etc.). Please consult a physician so medication can be administered outside of camp. To ensure a positive experience for all campers, it is IMPERATIVE that you notify us of any special needs or medical conditions your child may have. We will accommodate these needs to the best of our ability.
What should I pack for meals?
Camp Zoofari is a “high energy” activity with several hours of walking around the Zoo, so campers should eat a hearty breakfast before arrival. We provide bagged snacks (pretzels, cookies or crackers) in the morning and afternoon. Water is also offered throughout the day at refillable water stations in the Zoo. We recommend bringing a reusable water bottle to keep your camper hydrated.
All campers must bring a lunch daily. Due to safety concerns, glass containers are prohibited. Juice boxes with straws are not allowed. There is not a microwave available for use.
Some items are not recommended. Please pack clear liquids or juices only for drinking. Please see lunch recommendations below.
- Sandwich or “Lunchable”
- Whole fruit
- Reusable containers
- Water or Sport Drinks
- Clear fruit juice
- Cereal bars
- String cheese
- Yogurt and “Gogurt”
- Difficult to open packages
- Mayonnaise-based salads
- Thick fruit/vegetable juice
- Glass containers
- Food that requires heating or cooking
- Food for other campers
- Juice boxes with a plastic straw
Can I bring snacks for the group?
Due to dietary restrictions of participants, please do not bring snacks (such as cupcakes) for your child’s class as we are unable to allow these to be shared with the group.
My camper is sensitive to transitions or elements like light, sound or smells. Is Camp Zoofari a good fit for my camper?
The answer really depends upon your camper. Camp Zoofari can be very overwhelming to some campers with these sensitivities, yet others do extremely well at camp. You know your camper best and what he or she may be able to safely and comfortably experience.
Camp takes place outdoors, in the Houston Zoo, for 4.5 hours each day. Camp groups do not have a dedicated classroom space. The spaces you see at check-in and check-out are only used for that purpose. There are indoor activities in a variety of buildings. The Zoo is a public space and can be crowded and/or loud. Additionally, our proximity to the Medical Center means sirens and helicopters can routinely be heard inside the Zoo. Live animals and food vendors produce a variety of smells. Campers must be able to use public restrooms, which have electric hand-driers, without assistance. Campers complete multiple transitions each day as they move between exhibits and buildings. Each building may have different lighting based on the needs of the animals in those spaces.
We do our best to prepare all campers by sharing the plan for the day with them each morning and announcing transitions before they occur.
If you have a question or concern, please call our office at 713-533-6739 before registering. We are unable to offer refunds for campers who leave camp early because the sensory elements or transitions are too much for them to handle.
What does my camper do all day?
See what your campers will discover each day on our Parent Page. We also post camp photos in the week following camp. This page will be updated June 1, 2018 and then weekly after that. Visit www.houstonzoo.org/campparent.
You can also register for our new family camps for a first-hand look at the Camp Zoofari experience!
May I enroll my child in a camp for an older age group?
Age requirements are not negotiable and are strictly enforced. Campers must fall within the specified age category on the first day of the camp session they are attending. We divide the campers by their birthdate into smaller groups for Zoo tours and activities.
How are campers supervised?
Camp Zoofari is proudly licensed by the State of Texas as a youth day camp. The law requires at least 1 adult to every 10 campers. Camp Zoofari exceeds this requirement by staffing 1 adult and one teen to every 8 campers.
Campers are supervised at all times and are escorted on restroom breaks. However, our staff are not allowed to enter the restroom stalls to assist campers and must remain outside of the bathroom of the opposite gender. All campers must be able to use a public restroom without assistance.
What should I bring/pack?
You must bring the following:
- Camp shirt
- Close-toes shoes
- Reusable water bottle
You may want to also bring:
- Weather-appropriate gear like hats, coats, rain coats, sunglasses, etc.
- Sunscreen or bug spray. Please apply before dropping off your camper. We are not able to apply.
- Camera for older campers.
Can I bring a backpack?
Campers are only in the space parent’s see for check-in and check-out. Camp takes place on Zoo Grounds and campers must be able to carry everything themselves. Cubbies are available for children to store items they don’t want to carry in the Zoo. Please do not bring any personal electronics, such as tablets or gaming systems as these items could be lost. Houston Zoo is not responsible for any personal electronic devices brought.
Does my child need to wear their camp shirt every day?
Yes, a camp t-shirt must be worn each day of Camp Zoofari. One shirt is included in the registration fee. You may purchase additional shirts at the time of registration for $10 apiece. Sizes are Youth XS (2-4), S (6-8), M (10-12), L (14-16), and Adult S, M, and L. If you are unsure of what size to order, please order a size larger to allow room for your camper to grow.
What do you do in the event of severe weather?
If Houston Zoo is open, Camp Zoofari is operating. To determine if camp is in session, please visit the Houston Zoo main page. Any closings will be announced on the homepage of our website. Closings will also be communicated via the Houston Zoo Facebook page.
What are the camp rules?
- Listen and follow instructions
- Participate in camp activities
- Respect others
- Respect property
- Have fun!
Should a camper forget the camp rules, one of our Camp Guides will remind them of the camp rules. If the behavior continues, the camper will be removed and parents called to speak to them. In the event improvement is not realized after a phone call, the camper shall be sent home for the remainder of the day. A return to camp the following day will be at our discretion. Refunds are not provided for campers sent home for failing to follow the rules.